Soyer: Support diversity and inclusion at the UI


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The University of Iowa Student Government passed a proposal last week called the Diversity Inclusion Education at Large bill, with the intent of making the university a more successfully diverse environment. Because this bill is a resolution, it simply is a way of the UISG communicating to the university what it would like to see happen. University administrators would do well to listen to what the students are saying and adopt the steps outlined in this proposal.

Written primarily by Sri Ponnada, a member of the UISG Academic Affairs and Diversity Committees and a former Daily Iowan writer, the bill calls for a review of the classes that fall under the Values, Society, and Diversity general-education requirement. The goal is to determine what classes are having a larger effect on students than others, something that would be very useful to all UI students. As Ponnada said, there have been classes such as Table Tennis that fill this requirement, and that does no one any good.

“Our education at UI is not only supposed to prepare us for our careers in the future but also for our lives in a global world,” Ponnada said.

Although this may be something many students shake their heads at, I couldn’t agree more. General-education classes are often viewed as something required to take and just get over with. This is how I viewed them upon entering college a little more than a year ago, and I still sometimes look at certain requirements this way. But, as long as we’re expected to devote a sizable chunk of our college career in Gen-Ed classes, we may as well try to get something out of it, which can only be done if quality classes are offered.

One of the bill’s goals is to provide students with ways to appreciate and interact with the diversity already here on campus. “We are lucky enough to have the diversity that we have on our campus, and it is absolutely necessary for us to learn how to interact with and appreciate that diversity,” Ponnada said. “We need to learn how to interact with each other and respect each other because without that, we won’t make the best of our time here.”

It doesn’t take listening to more than a handful of students talk poorly about international students to know that this is something that needs to be addressed.

The bill also pushes for the renaming of the Values, Society, and Diversity general-education requirement to be renamed Diversity and Inclusion, Values and Society. Although this may seem like a trivial thing to consider, the changing of the name is instrumental in shifting the focus to diversity and inclusion. It also would give students a clearer idea of what they can expect to get out of a class that falls under that category.

Making the UI a more inclusive and diverse campus is something that falls on everyone, including the students. However, university administrators can go a long way in providing students with the tools to do so, and taking the Diversity Inclusion Education at Large seriously is a great place to begin.

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